National Aquatic Centre
|Operator||National Sports Campus Development Authority|
|Opened||10 March 2003|
|Construction cost||€70 million|
|Architect||S & P Architects|
|2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games|
2003 European Short Course Swimming Championships
The National Aquatic Centre (NAC) (Irish: Ionad Náisiúnta Uisce) is an indoor aquatics facility in Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland. The Centre houses a 50 metre swimming pool with an associated diving pool, an aquapark and leisure pool, and a fitness centre.
Since opening in March 2003, the Centre has hosted the swimming events of the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the 2003 European Short Course Swimming Championships and a number of international water polo events. It also hosts the Irish Open Swimming Championships, Irish Senior Water Polo Cup, Irish Open Diving Championships, as well as a number of other national and regional aquatic events.
In 2001, a "Design, Build and Operate" contract for the Centre was awarded to a consortium of companies – S & P Architects (for the design part), Rohcon (construction) and Dublin Waterworld (operation). The capital cost of the Centre was originally budgeted at €62.5 million. The project was certified as complete in September 2010. The actual cost of the project is still unclear but €119m has been spent on the Campus to date.
The Centre sustained roof damage during a period of stormy weather in January 2005 and had to be closed for five months so that repairs could be carried out. This closure, after only 18 months operation, damaged the business of the operating company, Dublin Waterworld. Campus & Stadium Ireland Development (CSID), the State company which owns the centre, commissioned an engineer to assess the roof damage and they concluded that the roof was not designed and constructed in accordance with building regulations, despite the fact that CSID's experts had certified it. During the period of closure, the NSCDA (National Sports Campus Development Authority) commenced legal proceedings to remove the operators. The case was settled in December 2006 with Dublin Waterworld agreeing to leave the Centre and each party covering their own costs.
NSCDA claimed that the former Operator Dublin Waterworld Limited had failed to pay VAT of some €10m. A High Court-appointed arbitrator upheld the VAT charge as did the High Court. However, in 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that there was no basis for the VAT charge and set aside both the earlier awards. The Public Accounts Committee investigated the background to the case and issued a report in May 2012, which was highly critical of NSCDA and the Department of Sport. In December 2012, Dublin Waterworld acquired documents that demonstrated that NSCDA had been advised in 2002 that the VAT charge was contrary to legislation. These documents were forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee, and an explanation from NSCDA sought.
Since the NSCDA took back the running of the centre in 2007 the centre has seen visitor numbers multiply, and membership triple. However the centre still requires an annual multi million euro subsidy. The Centre claimed to have had over six hundred thousand visitors in 2011, with admission income of €1.4m and ticket costs of up to €14. In 2012 over 815,000 people used the facilities of the Centre, making it Ireland’s third most popular fee-paying attraction.
Swim Ireland launched a High Performance Unit in April 2010 and conducts training camps for elite swimmers at the Centre. In 2012, the NAC hosted pre-Olympic training camps for teams from 16 different countries, including the then Water Polo Champions Hungary, new Olympic Water Polo Champions Croatia, the Korean National Swimming team and the Synchronised Swimming team from the USA, among others.
The NAC has come to house Ireland’s biggest one-site programme of swimming lessons (over 2,500 participants weekly) and has over 4,500 members. On 7 January 2013 the centre set an Irish record for the most bookings in one day for swimming, diving and synchronised swimming lessons.
The National Aquatic Centre is one of the world’s largest indoor water centres. It comprises:
- a 10-lane 50 metre x 25 metre international standard swimming pool with two moveable floors which allow it to be reconfigured for other uses;
- a 25 metre international standard diving and warm-up pool;
- seating for 2,500 spectators;
- a leisure area (AquaZone) including adventure water rides, with a children’s play pool and wave pool, and a "lazy river" feature;
- a fitness centre (ToneZone);
- a café.
The centre is fully accessible and was commended in 6 O2 Kanchi Award categories as well as winning ILAM Gold Standard awards twice.
Olympic sized swimming pool
The National Aquatic Centre houses Ireland's first Olympic standard pool. Known as the International Competition Pool, in 2003 it was used for the 2003 Special Olympics and later in the same year hosted the Ligue européenne de natation. In 2012 this pool hosted 16 nations from across the globe, including teams from USA, Great Britain, South Korea, Canada, Croatia and more for pre London Olympics Games training camps, making it Ireland's most successful pre-Olympics venue.
Aquazone Water Park is the name of a water park which operates in the National Aquatic Centre. The water park features three water slides (The Dark Hole, The Green Giant and the Master Blaster), a surfing-machine, a Lazy River and a large pool that generates waves. In 2012 over 815,000 people visited making it one of Ireland’s top paid attractions.
- Official site – National Aquatic Centre
- News report
- Business report
- Costs article
- Legal action article
- News article